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Demolition raises several points

How did it happen that all options for the Masterton Town Hall in the LTP consultation involved the demolition of a heritage building valued by the community and protected by the District Plan?

Many calls have been made to save the town hall with its fine ceiling and impressive façade, but its determination as ‘earthquake prone’ now serves as a rationale for demolition.

A closer look at the Earthquake Prone Building [EPB] notice attached to the Town Hall on 26 August 2018 raises questions around the determination of the town hall as an earthquake prone building.

Public visibility is key. The earthquake rating information must sit at the top of the EPB notice below ‘Notice under section 133AL of the Building Act 2004’, and the text must be in bold. Either a] The earthquake rating of the building must be specified, or b] ‘The earthquake rating has not been determined’ must be entered.

If b) applies, the notice must also include a statement that ‘The TA [MDC] has not determined if the building/part of the building is earthquake-prone [because the owner has not provided an engineering assessment], but is proceeding as if it had determined the building/part of the building to be earthquake-prone’.

However, no earthquake rating information appears on the notice as prescribed, and the space where it should sit has been removed.

A tiny 10-12 per cent NBS is tucked away under the MDC logo. This does not comply with the legally prescribed form and if it is an informal estimate, it may be misleading.

It is worth noting that an earthquake rating is measured at the most defective part of a building and that rating applies to the entire building until the defective part is made good.

The town hall is a scheduled heritage building protected in the proposed District Plan. The age or condition of a building does not affect its heritage status.

The council has often noted that demolition of the town hall requires resource consent. That process will test the proposed demolition of the building and facade against the values enshrined in the historic heritage Rules of the District Plan.

Additional information

There is no requirement to demolish a building determined to be earthquake-prone. The EPB notice requires the owner of a building to carry out building work to ensure that the building/part of a building is no longer earthquake-prone [seismic work]. The definition of ‘ seismic work’ can include demolition.

The EPB notice is for the ‘building situated at 64 Chapel, Town Hall and Frank Cody Lounge’. It is unclear which is the building affected and which are its parts. The building is recorded on the EPB Register as ‘Masterton Municipal Buildings’. If the description of the building is not the same on the EPB notice and the EPB Register, it can be a further barrier to public access.

The orange and black border around the notice is used for the lowest earthquake-prone buildings – or where no rating has been determined as there is no engineering assessment.

Jeannie Cozens

Masterton

Looking sideways

Kieran McAnulty can hold his head high when he states that he is not breaking the law by claiming a parliamentary accommodation allowance while staying at a family-owned property while parliament is sitting.

It is an allowance he is fully entitled to. However, even if you have been upfront with the boss right from the get-go and declared the ownership of the property [even if you didn’t have to], wouldn’t you ask yourself, as someone who relies on “the people” to give you a job, what “the people” might make of it. Especially since the supreme leader has only recently been outed for a similar moral misdemeanour.

Christopher Luxon was caught claiming tens of thousands of dollars while he stayed in his own freehold home. Was this legal? Yes. Was it morally distasteful? Yes, again.

It’s probably why I don’t look up to MPs any more. I look sideways. And it’s nothing to do with a lack of trust. It’s a lack of respect.

Graeme Burnard

Gladstone

A bigger hole?

Has the Masterton District Council [MDC] just dug itself into a bigger hole?

Surely, they must have known that demolishing the facade, including the Municipal Buildings, would require resource consent and the length of time that would involve. Surely, this would be publicly notified given the numbers who took part in the “hands around the hall” The level of public interest must be high. About 46 per cent of submitters to the LTP wanted to retain the facade and 3 per cent wanted the whole building, according to the Times-Age on June 6. The deputy mayor says it would cost $2m to retain the facade. Given that the MDC is budgeting $25m for a new building the $2m is less than 10% of the cost of a new build, probably well with the realms of contingency of any new build.

How much is this resource consent going to cost?, it sounds a very expensive time consuming process to me, a process that may well fail leaving the town no further ahead in god know how many more years. Time for council to think again, do what they were voted in on, build a new town hall while retaining the Heritage Listed Facade, if easier the whole municipal building, as in the terms of the Wairarapa Combined District Plan.

Graham Dick

Masterton

Time to listen, again

At last, somebody in authority – Police Commissioner Andrew Coster – is speaking out about our permissive liquor laws that allow alcohol to damage the society and economy of Aotearoa [Times-Age, June 5].

Successive governments have ignored nearly all of the Law Commission’s recommendations in 2010 that alcohol be less freely available and that advertising and alcohol sponsorship be restricted. Meanwhile, we’ve kept our heads down and not complained because we find it convenient to pick up a bottle of wine or a carton of beer at the supermarket.

Law Commission President Geoffrey Palmer wrote in 2009 that most New Zealanders never become aware of the scenes that police deal with “because they are tucked up in bed and councils clean up the mess before they wake up. The police are left to shoulder the unpleasant burdens of these excesses. The dedicated doctors and nurses who staff our emergency facilities at the hospitals also see first hand the damage that is wrought. And they have to deal with it.’’

But money is made from selling alcohol, and profit trumps common sense.

Coster rightly says it’s not his job to advocate for law changes. I hope, though, that parliamentarians will listen to him, dust off that 2010 report and act on it.

John Rhodes

Greytown

1 COMMENT

  1. I think an investigation is needed into the Masterton Town EARTHQUAKE REPORT 😳 AND PEOPLE NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. The parliament accommodation policy needs to be REWRITING AND IS IT’S A WROUGHT THE WAY IT IS AT PRESENT. WE LIVING IN A GREAT TIME??GOVERNMENTS RIPPING OF TAX PAYERS AND COUNCILS RIPPING OF RATE PAYERS.

Comments are closed.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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